Last updated: 3 December, 2011

US and British ex-police chiefs to help Bahrain reform drive

Former British police boss John Yates and US ex-cop John Timoney will oversee reforms to Bahrain’s security force after a report found it guilty of human rights abuses, the Daily Telegraph reported Friday.

Bahrain’s King Hamad has asked Yates, who quit as head of Britain’s Metropolitan police force in July over a phone-hacking scandal, and Timoney, former head of Miami police, to modernise its force in order to meet international human rights standards.

“Bahrain’s police have some big challenges ahead, not dissimilar to those the UK itself faced only a couple of decades ago, but I have been impressed that the King is doing the right thing by pressing on with big reforms,” Yates told the British newspaper.

“This is a big challenge which I will undertake with a great reforming police officer like John Timoney,” he added.

A special independent commission probing Bahrain’s March crackdown on Shiite-led democracy protests said last week that police used “excessive force” and tortured detainees, prompting King Hamad to vow reforms.

The King commissioned the report to investigate allegations of government misconduct and human rights abuses against protesters, democracy activists, and opposition figures.

Yates was forced out of his job in Britain over accusations that his force ignored evidence of widespread hacking at the News of the World newspaper and over his links to Neil Wallis, the paper’s former senior executive.

Timoney worked in Philadelphia and New York before serving seven years as the head of Miami police.

The death toll from Bahrain’s uprising reached 35, including five security personnel, the report found. Five detainees were tortured to death while in custody and hundreds were also injured.

The commission, which studied events in February and March, concluded that a total of 2,929 people were detained during the protest movement, and at least 700 remain in prison.